17    May 20110 comments

Interview Series: Kay Radford, Research Centre Manager Central Coast Family History Society Inc

The Central Coast of NSW stretches from the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney, Australia. It is an area with a history of shipbuilding and early settlement and most popular for its orange orchards in the past.

In this interview we meet with Kay Radford, Research Centre Manager and Vice President of the Central Coast Family History Society Inc.

Tell us a bit about yourself Kay - how you got into family history research, why you are so heavily involved with it now etc.


I consider I was tricked into becoming a family history researcher by my late sister, who under the pretext of needing some information urgently from State Archives at Kingwood during the 1980s asked me to go and look something up for her because I lived locally whilst she lived at Hornsby. That was all it took for me to become hooked like many others.

I was so lucky with that trip to Kingswood because I met the late Lesley WHITFORD then President of Nepean Family History Society who was working in the search room. With Lesley’s help I was given a fantastic in depth indoctrination – Lesley led me through the pitfalls which have stood me well over the years, and trained me in the methodology I still use today.

I remained a member of Nepean for several years, holding the positions of Secretary and finally President when I moved to the central coast in 1996 at which time I was dragged screaming to a general meeting of the Central Coast FHS and have been on the committee ever since.

I became Nepean’s delegate to the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies Inc. and as delegate for Central Coast FHS in 1999 was voted onto the managing committee at the Tumut Conference. I became Secretary in 2000 a position I held until last year 2010 when I stepped aside to concentrate on my commitment to Central Coast.

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2.    What's the background on your surname.  Any famous/infamous people you're connected to?

I was married to Wayne Hartley in 1958. Have one daughter and four sons. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last and in 1977 I married Ken Radford and found myself with a new husband and eight children. We survived!  I am now the proud grandmother of 18 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. I have carried out research for the Hartley and Radford surnames.

My maiden surname was MYERS. I have a collection of Royal Doulton Pottery and have visited the factory in Stoke a couple of times, so it was no surprise to learn my 5th great paternal grandfather was an Earthenware Potter, William MAYER from Burslem in Stoke on Trent.

On my maternal side my mother was Ellen Elizabeth Hallstrom a niece of Sir Edward HALLSTROM the manufacturer of the Silent Knight Refrigerator and for many years a Director at Taronga Park Zoo. My grandfather was William Charles HALLSTROM the eldest child of William HALLSTROM and Mary Ann (nee COLLESS) from the Nepean.

I have successfully traced my mother’s Hallstrom line back to Sweden as far as Johan Svenson HALLSTROM 1708-1771 all documented with primary records to prove ancestry.

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3.    What's your role at CCFHS?

I am the Research Centre Manager and have been since 1996.  I coordinate the day to day running of the Centre, I am responsible for keeping the centre updated with the latest resource material. I delegate work to volunteers and supervise projects. Our latest project is to scan irreplaceable source material to keep off site in case of fire or theft.

I also administer the Society’s web site as well as the website for the NSW&ACT Association of Family History Societies Inc. Maintain a mailing list for all members with email addresses to keep them informed of latest development in the family history world. I have been the editor of CCFHS’ journal The Muster since 1997 working on the team a few months prior to taking over completely. In 1997 I created the Pelican Press the monthly newsletter given free to members at the general meeting and placed on the website to be downloaded.

I am at present one of the precinct committee organizing an event for the Biggest Morning Tea which will be an event run by the four tenants of our council precinct to be held on 28th May 2011. Gosford Lion’s, CC Handweavers, Spinners and Textile Arts Guild and the CC Potter’s Guild.

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4.  Tell us more about CCFHS e.g. When did it start, How many members do you have etc.

The Central Coast Family History Society was formed in 1981 when a small group began to meet over coffee to exchange ideas regarding research into their family histories.

As interest grew, and membership increased, it became necessary for a more formal approach, thus the first election of Officers was held in April, 1983.  The number of active members now exceeds four hundred, with attendance at monthly meetings averaging seventy with ninety being registered in February 2010.

Our aims are to promote the study of family and local history and to encourage its recording and preservation.

To undertake the recording of monumental inscriptions, and the transcribing and indexing of historical records, of the Central Coast. To promote, public access to Government records of interest and importance to family historians and to provide facilities to assist and benefit members’ research.

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5.  What are some of CCFHS key activities

  • Our main aim is to encourage family history research
  • We conduct Beginner’s Course run by a professional genealogist
  • Hold Computer User’s meeting to assist members in getting the most out of their computer investment
  • We conduct a Writers Group to assist members in putting their research into print.
  • Conduct Seminars for beginners on using Family Tree Maker® family tree program.
  • We are currently in the process of making available several new publications. Logan’s Funeral Directors Register Records for Moree. Reconstructing the Old Balmain Cemetery at Leichhardt, Dungog Cemetery digital collection kindly donated to the society.
  • We have a general meeting on the first Saturday of each month with the exception of January. Location is the Gosford Lions Community Hall behind our research centre at 8 Russell Drysdale Street, East Gosford doors open at 11am for a 1pm sharp start.
  • We have a group called the Trippers. This group on a monthly basis travel by train to various places of interest last event was to the Big Dig in Sydney.
  • Regular car pool trips are made the State Records Office at Kingswood
  • Our Centre is open 9.30am – 2.30 pm Monday through Friday, Thursday evening 7pm-9pm and on Saturday morning 9.30am till noon.
  • Saturday afternoons is designated as workshop, seminar or educational time.

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6.  Do you have any events coming up?

CCFHS next major society event will be National Family History Week in August, in September we will travel with a large contingent of members and  our Bookstall to the Annual Conference of the Association of Family History Societies' State Conference, to be hosted this year by Inverell District Family History Group http://www.inverellfamilyhistory.org.au/.

See NSW & ACT website at http://www.nswactfhs.org/

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7.    How do you see the Internet affecting genealogy / family history researchers?

It was all doom and gloom at the beginning of the Internet Research era. The role of the little family history society would be at risk, members will drop off and on and on it went.

Well not at CCFHS our membership has grown and our visits on a daily basis have increased tremendously over the past several years. The reason?  Confusion. Ok online access is great. BUT what do you do when you have no real background knowledge on the basics. You head for the people with the knowledge, your local family history society. Day after day we have people arriving on our doorstep in a complete meltdown because they have downloaded all this information and nothing seems to fit. Our job is to make it fit, correctly and we do it over and over again. At CCFHS we are there to put the jigsaw back together. Where else do you get so much help for a small yearly membership fee.

We try to only use the online sites when we have a clear picture of the basic details. Once these are proved by the purchase of primary or secondary records may I add here Certificates or Transcriptions do we encourage moving on. Hence we encourage our trips to Sydney to the various repositories like the State and Mitchell Library, various council libraries and  to Kingswood to State Records, not forgetting local cemeteries etc.

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8.    What effect do you think DNA profiling will have on family history research?

I think DNA has its place. But it would be a long time before I would be interested and I guess price will be the main factor.

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9.    Do you have any tips for someone starting out on the on the genealogical journey?

  • Join your local family history society – when you enter our centre you will probably find a combined knowledge base in research of 50 years or more.
  • You will receive in your beginner’s kit sufficient forms to begin recording your information. And how to go about it.
  • Perhaps purchase one of our Handy Note Recorders, they fit in your handbag ladies. Take it wherever you go. Use a pencil for recording your information and a rubber to erase the mistakes you are bound to make.
  • Don’t forget to note the source material.
  • Go to the research rooms of your FHS and seek help from one of the volunteers on duty.  They will guide you through the resources in the way of books, fiche, film and internet, and will recommend other research facilities for you to visit, which will depend on the area or country from where your ancestors travelled to Australia.

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10.    If someone wants to find out more about what you or the BMFHS do, how can they contact you?

To find out more about CCFHS email our Centre Manager at kay1@centralcoastfhs.org.au or phone the centre during office hours at 02 4324 5164.  Our website is http://www.centralcoastfhs.org.au send a message via the Contact page for immediate action.

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